All inmates in 1 ward in Silivri Prison may have been infected with coronavirus: report

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Silivri Prison in İstanbul has become a symbol of Turkey, the biggest jailer of journalists around the world. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

More than 40 inmates incarcerated in one prison ward in the notorious Silivri Prison in İstanbul may have been infected with the coronavirus, according to accounts from their relatives, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Three of the inmates in the C35 ward in block number eight in Silivri, where most political prisoners are held, have been transferred to a hospital where they tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bold Medya.

The remaining 40 inmates in the block asked to be tested for COVID-19, but the prison administration turned them down, telling them to choose four people among them to be tested. The prison administration said not all inmates could be allowed to undergo tests and that those going to the hospital would have to remain in solitary confinement upon their return. Some inmates had to withdraw their requests to be taken to the hospital to avoid solitary confinement after their return, according to accounts from family members.

According to a May 11 statement from Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, an opposition member of the Turkish parliament and a rights activist, 191 inmates in Silivri had contracted the coronavirus.

The Turkish government recently released thousands of inmates due to the coronavirus outbreak to save lives; however, it excluded political prisoners.

Turkey has jailed thousands of people on terrorism charges in the aftermath of a 2016 coup attempt. Most of them were only critical of the government and had not engaged in any criminal activity.

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